…and receiving! A very interesting find is the essay The Psychology of Gift Exchange by Mayet, C. & Pine, K. J., published as a University of Hertfordshire Internal Report in 2010. The article can be downloaded in full as a PDF if you search the internet. We found it to be very concise and enlightening when it comes to gift giving, and you will see that most probably the way you think or feel about a gift, or the receiver of the gift, will fit into the descriptions below.
After reading this, don’t think too much and just act as you would naturally do and treat somebody you like with a very digandgift delight.
We won’t go for a full academic analysis of the text, and for the quotes below, we give all credits to the authors. The essay sums up different theories, behaviours and typologies of gift exchange, and starts with a most brilliant definition of what gift giving is: “a social, cultural and economic experience; a material and social communication exchange that is inherent across human societies and instrumental in maintaining social relationships and expressing feelings (Camerer, 1988, Joy 2001)”. We are especially fond of the later part.
As we go on reading we discover something that is at the core of our own gift shop: “gift giving is not a one way exchange, as there are accumulated benefits for the giver too”. That is at the core of the reason why we opened this shop… it gives us joy to assemble the gifts and like to believe that they will reach your loved ones, and you feel in return their appreciation and excitement of discovery.
And what does a giver require in order to impress (and we like to think our gifts help achieve this): “Wooten (2000) describes the qualities and attributes a giver requires in order to succeed as a giver: creativity, recipient empathy, and the intuitive use of money, time and effort”. In close relation with these, the article identifies the following attributes related to gift giving: “appropriateness, empathy, and effort”. For sure we can take care of the effort, what is up to you is that special connection you might have with the recipient of the gift. And that’s because “Gifts symbolise more than material attributes; to give something is to give a part of oneself (Mauss, 1954). Gifts are considered extremely representational and emotional, allowing givers to communicate without the use of language (Belk, 1996)”.
When can you actually give a gift? Basically anytime you feel like, of course, but you can also guide yourself on these four categories of symbols advocated by Wolfinbarger’s (1990):
Gifts which are symbolic of the self and of the giver;
Gifts which are symbolic of the giver’s knowledge of the receiver;
Gifts which are symbolic of the occasion;
Gifts which are expressive and contain an array of significant meanings.
To conclude, all gift givers should “exploit information about their own preferences and experiences to enable them to generate successful gifts relations”. And never forget “to use personal insight to mediate successful gift choices”.
Happy gift giving!